Our Staff Make Us Great
Amelia Merz, MD, Medical Director
Dr. Merz is Medical Director at the PRIDE Institute, staff psychiatrist at the Minnesota Veterans Hospital and an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School. Dr. Merz has also worked with Park Nicollet Health Services as the Chair of Mental Health as well as the Medical Director of the Women’s Health Clinic. She served her residency at PRIDE Institute and has worked directly with the LGBT community throughout much of her experience. Dr. Merz will work with all aspects of care including admissions, nursing, medication monitoring, detox protocols, counseling, physician and resident supervision, mental health and insurance utilization review.
Dr. Janet Schmitt, MD, ABFM, Certified Addictionologist
Dr. Schmitt provides psychiatric evaluations and ongoing care to PRIDE Institute residents as part of the medical care team. She received her doctorate in medicine from Michigan State University and completed her residency in family practice in St. Paul. Dr. Schmitt has worked with PRIDE Institute since 2004.
Todd Connaughty, LADC, BS in Addiction Counseling, Director of Clinical Services
Todd has worked for PRIDE Institute since 2006 in various positions including his current work as the clinical director at residential and outpatient. Prior to working in the addiction field, Todd received his Practical Nursing diploma in 1993 followed by ten years of working with pediatric and adolescent clients in home health care. Todd trained under Dr. Weston Edwards, LP, to work with LGBTQ sexual health issues and substance dependency. Todd is the father to three children and currently lives with his partner in the Uptown area of Minneapolis.
Sadie Hosley, MA, LADC, LPC, Lead Counselor
Sadie completed her undergraduate work from the University of Minnesota Duluth majoring in Psychology and minoring in Art. She completed her Master’s degree in Addiction Studies from Hazelden in 2009 and has continued with counseling graduate work at Saint Mary’s University. She is currently working on pursuing her LPCC. Sadie’s counseling styles include solution focused, twelve step facilitation and client centered therapy. Sadie has been working at the Pride Institute since 2009 and completed her internship at Pride Institute’s outpatient program previous to her employment. Sadie has recently stepped into the lead counseling position at Pride Institute. Sadie continues to incorporate her passion for the arts and community into recovery.
Jessica Alverez, LADC, Counselor
Jessica began working with Pride Institute as a chemical dependency intern in May 2011 and moving into various positions with the program. After receiving her Bachelors of Arts in Psychology from College of St. Catherine in 2009, she began working for a local company while she researched what she would like to pursue professionally. Jessica began studying at Metropolitan State University in 2010 working toward licensure requirements to be a LADC. Jessica became licensed through the State of Minnesota in April 2012. Currently, Jessica resides in the Twin Cities area with her partner and child.
Laura Anderson MA, LADC, Chemical Dependency Counselor
Laura graduated from the University of North Dakota with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and a double minor in Chemical Dependency studies and Criminal Justice. Her studies included interest in how addiction affects specific subgroups including: adolescents, the LGBT community, cultural/ethnic communities, and prison populations. She went on to graduate from Hazelden’s Graduate School with her Master’s degree in Addiction Counseling. Laura facilitates a weekly grief and loss group at Pride, and emphasizes a holistic approach to recovery which includes mindfulness and meditation.
Melissa Anderson, MA, LMFT, LADC, Kindred Program and Family Counselor
It took Melissa a while to realize that psychology was her career path. Once there she found her passion and continued this by getting a Master in Counseling Psychology, along with her Post Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy at St. Mary’s University. Melissa’s past training includes working with populations who have dual mental illness and chemical dependency. She currently works with couples/families, and concerned persons as part of the Kindred program at PRIDE. Melissa is currently working toward full LMFT licensure, and hopes to continue to work with clients and their relationships with concerned families, parents, or partners to build a stronger foundation for success.
Shannon Garrity, PsyD, LP, Psychologist
Shannon’s approach to therapy is dynamic and strength-based. She integrates tenants of Eastern philosophy with Western psychology. Her training is in clinical psychology and has experience working with mindfulness, body image issues, sexual health concerns, and a broad range of other mental health issues.
David Smith, MEd, LADC, Chemical Dependency and Sexual Health Counselor
David has worked with Pride Institute since 2008 in many different capacities. David interned with Dr. Weston Edwards at Pride’s Outpatient Services to gain better insight regarding Sexual Health issues and the relationship it has with our drugs of choice. He has been trained in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Music Therapy. He has a comprehensive understanding of Sexual Compulsivity and the role that those behaviors specifically play with Meth addiction. “I have discovered in the chemical addiction field that one treatment experience does not fit all. The LGBTQ community has specific needs that cannot be over looked in order for our community to achieve continues and supportive sobriety”. Other positions he has held prior to coming to Pride Institute have been with The Retreat, a spiritual and 12 Step program based on the principle of Alcoholics Anonymous, Ark Counseling, and Saint Paul Sober Living managing their LGBTQ sober housing. David is originally from Boston where he was elementary school teacher for many years. He moved to Minnesota ten years ago and decided to change his career path that would combine his passion for teaching and his commitment for recovery. “I love working with others so that they can learn a stronger sense about themselves so that they can achieve their dreams of living a happy, joist, and free life without the need for drugs and alcohol.”
Lisa Walter, BA, LADC, Chemical Dependency Counselor and Aviation Program Counselor
Lisa combines her trauma informed care experience with compassion and a passion for recovery, to create a safe and nurturing environment for PRIDE’s clients to begin their recovery process. She is originally from Buffalo, NY, and worked for many years in the airline industry before making a career change to the chemical dependency field. Her counseling style includes motivational interviewing, person-centered therapy, and a combination of DBT/CBT. Lisa wored as a CD tech at PRIDE Institute before becoming a licensed alcohol and drug counselor. She has served as a Retreat Assistant at The Retreat in Wayzata, MN; Women’s Program Manager at St. Paul Sober Living; intern and LADC at A Woman’s Way – River Ridge Treatment Center in Burnsville, MN; and was a facilitator for the Celebrating Families Program in St. Paul, MN. She is a graduate of Metropolitan State University.
Mary Burkert, RN, LADC, Lead Nurse, Nurse Educator
Mary received her associate’s degree as a registered nurse from Clinton Community College, in Clinton, Iowa, in 1981. She has worked as an EENT and medical surgical nurse at the University of Iowa; psychiatric nurse at the University of Minnesota; house supervisor, charge nurse, and nurse educator for the Ebenezor Caroline Center. Since March of 1998, Mary has worked at PRIDE Institute as a shift charge nurse, director of nursing, and presently as the lead nurse and nurse educator. She received her LADC through Metro State University in 2005. She has seen many positive changes over the years at PRIDE Institute and believes that the team is only getting better as they “Reach for Excellence.”
Ann Leible, LPC, MA, Utilization Review
Ann received her MA degree in mental health counseling and is NBCC certified and licensed as a professional counselor in the state of Minnesota. She has been working at PRIDE Institute since November 2001 with special expertise in assessment and utilization review.